Decision #2: Humanize the Woman (part 2)

Step 3: Renew Your Identity
You are not a mechanical device.  Despite what porn preaches, the goal of life is not to have an orgasm, or to see naked women.  The thing about all forms of pornography, but especially the “hard core” stuff, that makes it so evil is the mechanistic way in which it is produced.  To humanize the woman, therefore, you must re-humanize yourself.  To do this, you must restore your image of God.

Porn is a machine.  Think about those behind-the-scenes specials you’ve watched of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.  Pose, click, pose, click click, turn, flash, click.  She needs more makeup. Move your arm. Check the light. Turn to the side. Click click.  Now, photography inevitably sounds like this, even for family portraits.  But here, the only goal is to present her beauty to the world in a way we haven’t seen before.  Except, when you start to perceive this stuff as it really is, we have seen it.  There is nothing we haven’t seen before.  They just want us to feel like we haven’t seen it. Again, they appeal to our emotions, which emanate from our needs.

Those legitimate sexual needs of yours are exploited by the photographer and the producer and the model for their gain, and leave you with an empty longing over the distance of the page in front of you.  Though she’s right there with you, she’s thousands of miles away.

To them, you are a consumer.  You are another hit on their web page.  You add another slash mark to the list.  To them, your entire identity is “horny guy,” and they have just one goal for you.  The more you consume, the more you see yourself this way too.

When you watch the “hard core” stuff, the mechanism is even more insidious.  We talked before about the language that gets used toward the women, and in reference to all the body parts of the women and the men.  The coarse, non-complimentary, dehumanizing language that does whatever it can to help us forget this is a real woman sitting here.

They say the same words over and over in the same situations.  They swear constantly, as if that’s the only possible response to the pleasure they’re pretending to feel (most of the time).  Repetitive.  Mechanized.  No soul.  No variation.  The even more insidious aspect of this is that they are teaching you what you are “supposed” to do in sex.

In Pornified, there are stories of men who have upset their wives and girlfriends because they want them to act like the girls they have seen in porn.  Their wives and girlfriends get uncomfortable, feel awkward, but don’t want to make him feel like they’re rejecting him.  Even if what he’s asking her to do is disgusting and humiliating.  But why is he asking for that?  Deep down, does he need that?  Is this part of his legitimate sexual needs that God gave him?

No.  He has been told this is what sex looks like, so he thinks he wants it that way.  He has no concept of real intimacy, its purpose, or how it looks.  He has been told that women do this and that during sex, and if she doesn’t, why is she being such a prude?  See how that word is thrown around like it’s the final word on whether something is okay?  If you’re a prude, then what you’re doing is wrong, and you should do what I want instead.

Unhook the Machine
To renew your identity, you need to recognize the truth about how porn influences your thinking.  What you think you want has been fed into your brain by the porn machine you hook yourself into every night after the girlfriend you shouldn’t be living with goes to sleep.  Maybe the problem isn’t her; it’s you.  How many relationships end over stuff like this?  (But porn does no harm?  You still believe that?  You’re living in a dream world, Neo).

Our identity in Christ overcomes this kind of thinking.  Human beings have dignity, worth, and the right to be treated with respect.  Would you do what you’re asking the woman to do?  There’s some pretty repulsive stuff that goes on in the porn world.  And it’s astonishing how one-sided it is.  You don’t see the men having to do anything close to what they make the women do.  Some men even on camera recoil at stuff that’s part of the woman’s routine.  Oh yeah, I forgot, but it’s empowering.

Anyone who thinks porn empowers women either hasn’t watched it, or is so blinded by their own selfishness that they can’t see what’s glaringly obvious.  The double-standards are endless.  But they get paid more, don’t they?  Do they?  Or do you just think they do because, well, it seems fair?  What about the fact that the men can have careers that span decades, but the women are good for maybe five years, unless they get real famous and real determined (read: willing to do anything)?  Are they really paid more?

The Knowledge of God
Once you start to recognize how your own self-image has been distorted, you can begin to fight back.  One of my all-time favorite verses:

II Cor 10:3, 4
For though walking in the flesh, we are not waging war in accordance with the flesh.  For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but powerful in God for the tearing down of fortresses.  (NT Transline)

But what is the battle?  Who are we fighting?  Verse 5 goes on to say what is being torn down: “every height being raised up against the knowledge of God.”  Your identity is rooted in your knowledge of God.  What you believe about Him determines how you see yourself.  To renew your identity, learn more about God.  Draw closer to Him.  Get to know Him personally.

When you are down in the dumps with discouragement and depression, fearful and afraid, hopeless that nothing will change, that’s because you don’t believe God is powerful enough, or loves you enough, or cares enough to help you get up and find freedom.  You don’t believe He is able to set you free.

You would never say so out loud, at least on a Sunday, and you would even deny it if someone pressed.  You can mentally deny it all you want.  If you regularly find yourself in that state of mind, you don’t believe in God’s power.  Faith in who God is, who He says He is and what He says He will do, is the key to winning the battle.

If you really believe “all things are possible to him who believes,” then you shouldn’t be wallowing in despair all day.  Now, don’t let this discourage you; I’m not oversimplifying this.  Rather, seize this as the moment of change.  Every great accomplishment begins with a decision.  Once you admit you don’t believe these things about God (as always, acknowledging your sins is the first step to change), then you can decide that you want to believe them.  God will help you, but right now, you have not because you ask not.

In the X-Files, Mulder’s motto was “I want to believe.”  That’s the beginning.  So if you don’t believe God cares, or is good, or loves you, or has the power to set you free, what can you do to change that?  Start reading the Bible and declaring out loud all the verses you can find that say He is and does all these things.  Over time, you will start to truly believe them.  Remember, you have to want it.  It’s a hunger.  Blessed is the one hungering and thirsting for righteousness.  It is my life.  Your hunger for porn must be transformed into a hunger for righteousness.  You cannot serve two masters.

You may be wondering, why do we need to do all this?

Because when you change your image of God, your self-image will change.  And when your self-image begins to change, guess what else will change?  Your image of other people.  And you won’t see those enslaved women as you did before.  Your restored eyes will see their true reality:  Lost.  Blind.  Wretched.  Deceiving and destroying men and themselves at the same time.  You see them as the spiritually empty and needy ones who, just like you, need a revelation of who God is to escape their enslavement.

Real Beauty?
As you renew your identity by seeking God with a whole heart, your perception of beauty will begin to be challenged.  We need this one big time, because the culture inundates us with its false definitions of beauty.  The world pornifies us through advertising starting at very early ages.

Beauty is hard to define, and I still wrestle with certain aspects of it, and how God views it.  What makes something or someone beautiful?  Are the women in pornography, models and performers, really more beautiful than “regular” women?  Isn’t that why lots of girls want to look like them?  Is beauty totally relative, or do some people and things have more of it?

I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I do know this.  Your awareness of the good traits–physical, social, and spiritual–of the people around you will greatly increase when you stop looking at pornography.  Your taste in movies will change (like, Superbad will actually seem super bad…it’s about two pornified guys pursuing their own enslavement, and it’s supposed to be funny).  Your sense of humor will come alive.  Your confidence will grow.  I know, I’m making it sound like a miracle cure.  But in a way, it is.  When the disease is in the mind, the cure will revolutionize it.

Porn focuses almost exclusively on three or four aspects of the woman (and only one part of the man).  But there is much more to both than these.  Let your God-given ability to appreciate and respect true beauty come alive again.  This is one of the greatest losses in our culture–the inability to appreciate the details.  Yet to God, the details are everything.  Otherwise, all the trees would look the same.  There would only be one type of flower, and three types of mammals.  Why so much variety?  Why so much mess?  Let’s simplify it.  Reform and categorize it.  Let’s make it more efficient and controlled.  Let’s mechanize it.  God doesn’t see it that way.  I bet he loves it when biologists find yet another new species that doesn’t fit into their classification schemes, and they have to rethink everything.  I can just picture God up there cackling with the angels.  Stumped them again!

Humanity likes predictability.  God likes surprises.  Porn is the most predictable form of entertainment (if you call it that) ever known.  Every single sequence is the same.  They start the same; they end the same.  What little variety there is gets fast-forwarded over so we can get to the only parts we want to see.  They make menus on some DVDs that allow you to watch the same sexual positions over and over (proving they only do the same five positions in every scene).  This is all I want to see.  It’s myopic.  It’s like being out on a hike, and while totally ignorant of the astonishing complexity around you, you’re fixated on the same boring rock all day long, with your Ipod/cell phone/latest electronic distraction keeping you in the zone.

We have lost the joy of observation.  Beauty is about observation, detail, variety, and complexity.  Beauty isn’t the same every time.  Yet the delusional adult industry defenders think there is more variety in all the women you can enjoy in porn than to be stuck with the same woman your whole life in your slavery of a marriage.  (I hate this analogy they use…it’s the exact opposite of the truth).  Yet when you can truly see, once the log is removed from your eye, you realize there’s more variety and more unpredictability in one woman than in viewing hundreds on a screen.

So I don’t understand why God makes some women so much more externally desirable than others.  Or why it seems so much harder for a woman like that to trust in God rather than the power her beauty makes available to her.  Or how we poor men are supposed to cope when a gorgeous female walks by, even dressed respectably, without gaping in awe.  I don’t know all that.  But I do know that porn destroys our ability to appreciate the diversity of God’s creation.  And regular women will become more beautiful to you when you stop indulging in all the enslaved ones.

Step 4: Remember The Lessons of History
The last major part of the process of re-humanizing women is to learn from history and current events.  To keep this sin from returning to your mind or heart, consider some of the more horrific effects of dehumanization as they have been carried out in other places.  Make a decision to fight against these effects today.  Join or support an organization that fights sex-trafficking and human slavery.  There are dozens of them, some local, some international.

Learn about some of the things men have done to women through the centuries.  Read about the rape of Nanking, for example, where Japanese soldiers systematically gang-raped and then murdered thousands of Chinese girls.  There are also a couple recent documentaries about this event.  Learn about the “comfort women” they kidnaped to service their army as it fought the war.  These sex slaves were ruined for life, and to this day the government has not fully acknowledged the atrocity, in spite of some of the women who still live.

Or in Congo, where there are countless stories of brutalizing treatment of women at the hands of roving bands of murderers.  But, surely, that doesn’t happen in America, the greatest country in the world, right?  Hmm. You know the term “hooker,” right?  Hooker was a general in the Civil War, for the Northern army.  See the connection yet?  The reason we call prostitutes hookers is because of him.  He provided women to his army to service them.  Think those women willingly did that for who knows how many men, out of a sense of patriotism?  Would you?

And besides, we don’t need to treat women brutally against their will in this country, because we can pay them for it.  There is a type of porn film, also discussed in Pornified, that features dozens and dozens of men all having sex with the same woman.  They surround her, switch around, take turns at the various places, finish up, and then stand and stare at her.  Along with you when you watch it.

You think this should be legally protected free speech? You actually believe the girl–any girl– wants to go through that, even for a few thousand dollars (if it’s even that much…I doubt it)?  You think the person who watches this and pleasures himself is somehow better than those Japanese soldiers who gang-raped kidnapped women?  Not in the slightest.  It’s the exact same behavior, and the exact same sin.  Only different in degree.

It’s interesting that in burglary or murder, if there’s a getaway car, the driver of the car is held guilty for the same crimes as the people doing the “actual” crimes.  Why?  They weren’t there, so why should they be held accountable?  Because they were part of the act, and it couldn’t have been completed without them.  They decided the crime was acceptable conduct, and they did their part.  Guilty.  Everyone agrees on this (i.e. the man who helped Maurice Clemmons into hiding after he shot four police officers having coffee in a Tacoma diner).

Is a person who views a sadistic act like a simulated gang-rape any different than the men performing it, then?  Isn’t he approving of and participating in it?  Does it not feed his own lust for the subjugation of women as much as the men who are there?  Would they film it if no one watched this stuff?

This is why when I say we need to be specific when we repent, I mean it.  With the kind of stuff that’s out there these days, many of us have participated in some brutal and horrific acts, and have enjoyed it from a distance.  We are guilty.

Now, I don’t like staying here too long, because I don’t think it’s good to dwell on this stuff.  Remember, set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.  But it’s important to have stuff like this in the back of your mind.  In case you start to think that you might be doing alright and that now, you’re not so bad.  Know and believe what the human heart is capable of doing to another person.  Accept that you are capable of doing these things to women as well.  Then return to God, ask for His grace to continue to empower you to walk in the other direction.

The more humanized women become in your heart and mind, the more you will despise the reality of their mistreatment, as it continues unabated in our decaying culture.

When you work through the first three steps over many months, and when you make the fourth step part of your new awareness, you will defeat this sin, because your heart will be changed, and you will no longer see women as things to be used for your own pleasure.

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